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SRJC nursing student dies in Highway 1 crash

Published: Monday, April 1, 2013 at 7:44 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 1, 2013 at 6:40 p.m.

A nursing student at Santa Rosa Junior College was killed late Sunday when her car veered off a curve on Highway 1 and overturned into a drainage culvert.

Tanya Luna, 22, of Sonoma died in the 9:15 p.m. Sunday crash north of Salmon Creek, the CHP said. Three passengers, including her younger brother, suffered minor injuries.

On Monday, Luna's mother and family members in Sonoma struggled to cope with the tragedy.

"It's very difficult," said Luna's mother, Angelica Pureco, speaking in Spanish. "She was a very happy person."

The CHP is investigating whether Luna became distracted by her cellphone's navigational system, the CHP said Monday. Passengers in the Honda Accord told officers Luna had been using the GPS feature as she drove, CHP Sgt. Allan Capurro said.

Alcohol was also a possible factor, Capurro said.

Jorge Luna, 21, of Sonoma, Luna's brother and one of the passengers, said Monday that he and his sister had been drinking. He said she drank about 6 beers.

The other passengers were Santiago Robles, 17, and Jose Nava, 16, both of Sonoma. The group was on its way to Bodega Bay to enjoy the beach, Luna said.

The crash occurred just south of the tiny coastal neighborhood of Carmet.

Two passengers were taken to Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol.

Pureco said she found out about her daughter's death through law enforcement officials.

Luna, who was born in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico, first came to the United States when she was 6 years old, Pureco said. She dreamed of working in health care.

"She wanted to be a pediatrician, that's what she wanted to do," Pureco said.

Luna, who had been living on her own since she turned 18, graduated from Sonoma Valley High School and was studying nursing at Santa Rosa Junior College. She lived with a roommate in Sonoma. Aside from her brother, Jorge, Luna has an older and a younger sister.

Pureco said the family has not yet arranged memorial services.

Jorge said his sister was a "big believer in Jesus Christ." He said her death has left the family "feeling a loss, lonely and very sad."

Staff Writer Randi Rossmann contributed to this story.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com

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